For the first time in American history single people households outnumber married people households. If you’re not single currently, you have single friends and family, your kids are going to be entering single adulthood if they’re not there already. They’re an important, valued group the church should not ignore.
I have a deep love for singles. I want them to thrive and live wisely. So over the next three weeks I want to humbly offer three practical goals singles can steadfastly commit to. Here’s the first practical goal for singles to get serious about (even though these goals are for everyone):
GET OUT OF DEBT.
Did you hear someone say, Amen! It was Dave Ramsey. And it was your mother.
If you’re single, it will never be easier for you to get out of debt than it is right now. My mindset while single was, But I’ve got to live it up now. There’s so much fun stuff to buy and do and places to visit. When I get married, I’ll have someone help me with this debt thingy.
In the overwhelming majority of marriages there is one person who likes to spend and one person who likes to save. Getting out of debt after marriage is more difficult, so please get a plan and some accountability from a loved one to deal with it now.
I’m talking about school loans. Some people have a student loan debt that is like a pet, it’s been following them around for years. Start hitting that hard now.
I’m talking about the loan you took out to get a car that brought a big time payment. Pay that off aggressively.
Some singles have multiple credit cards. One day you walked into a store and was asked if you wanted to save money by opening up a credit card and you were like, that sounds awesome. You got a credit card and it saved you like seventy-five cents on your purchase that day. What a memory that was. Now you’ve got credit cards that you turn to when your eyes want something or when the bottom falls out and the savings aren’t there.
Get out of debt now, because it will linger and follow you into your next relationship and longer-term, if you don’t put a plan and a commitment together to be frugal and debt-free, then spending and piling up debt will follow after your future children as they enter into adulthood because you didn’t teach or show them how to handle spending (I apologize for the length of that run-on sentence, you may need to read it again).
Poor financial habits now will turn into poor marriage financial habits later.
Here’s another reason to get out of debt: If you’re dating and you’ve got a lot of debt that hasn’t been dealt with, it will make you less attractive to the person you’re getting to know across the restaurant table. She might think your car is really sweet right now and fun to ride in until she says I do and starts having to pay for it. He might laugh at your jokes right now but the tears will flow like Niagara Falls when the credit card bill comes in the mail.
Eventually the single person has to introduce their personal debt into a serious relationship. At some point you are going to have that conversation, if the relationship is deep and means something. Just like at some point while dating you’ll need to discuss your spiritual background, discuss your sexual history, discuss the brokenness you’ve gone through, talk about dreams you have – you’ll have to introduce your finances. That’s IF the relationship means something. Dating someone won’t last if it’s based on lust, binging on Netflix together and avoiding necessary conversations. It’ll be easier to bring up the debt attached to you if you’ve been working on paying it down.
Married couples are not off the hook here. Here’s a trend I’ve noticed about married couples after being in counseling sessions when the truth comes out: one or both of you in the marriage have a secret credit card that your spouse doesn’t know about it. (Some married people reading this just stopped breathing).
You’ve got your separate little card you buy all of your odds and ends with and it feels meaningless and harmless, but the problem with that is marriage is two people becoming one in all things: one home, one bed, one faith, one bank account and having a secret card practices deceit. It’s no different than having a secret crush at work or a secret drink at night.
Practicing how to hide things from your spouse slowly kills a marriage and damages a legacy.
If you’re hiding anything, come out into the light with it. Choose what is right over what has been sidestepped for too long.
Here’s a main reason it helps Christians to get out of debt: to be a Christ-follower is a calling to be generous in all things, to be a part of a church that loves needy people, loves the community, and wants to make an impact around the world. Each Christian is invited to generously be a part of these things. But if you’re in major debt, it’s more difficult to trust God and give sacrificially to others when frivolous bills are coming in.
Each time Whit and I have new friends over for dinner they nosily walk around our house and look at our pictures. When they see pictures of the children we financially support monthly around the globe and ask about the commitment to what sponsoring a child in need looks like, the consistent reason I hear over and over from others on why they couldn’t sponsor a needy child monthly was because there was debt strangling them.
I try to correct them gently: Debt isn’t strangling you. Selfishness is. No cable or no Starbucks or no new clothes or no sporting events or smarter grocery shopping may free someone in debt to be generous – but I get what they were saying – because the umbrella of debt is over someone’s head, it scares them to be generous back to God and to others around them.
When you decide – I am getting out of debt – it not only frees you up to be a more responsible spouse and parent one day, but you are also freeing yourself up for God to use you in a big way to get someone else in need of hope one step closer to Jesus.
So let me give you this advice: Get out of debt. Take it and ask for help or leave it and log onto Amazon.com. We’ve all struggled with this, let’s decide we’re going to get out of it and hold each other accountable to it.
Whether you’re married or single, your church and Christian friends should have conversations about struggles. If not then your church is just a social club avoiding needed discussions to help you become more like Jesus. Let’s get deep with others, let’s show our wounds and struggles and have others help us.
That’s the first piece of advice, get out of debt. The second piece of advice I can give to singles and to our next generation will be available next Wednesday (and it’s going to get a bit more intense).
Thanks for reading. You are loved.
Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders. – Romans 13:7